On the eve of the release of her film Les Engagés, Emilie Frèche talks about her love for Deauville

Emilie Frèche is directing her first “solo” feature film, Les Engagés, which is released on screens on Wednesday. ©SQ

Where does your emotional bond with Deauville come from?

From childhood. My grandmother owned a small Villa Elisabeth apartment. I went there every July. I keep a very good memory.

Is that why you bought a house in Bénerville?

I love building, doing work. I dreamed of having something facing the sea. In 2015, I found a 50m² house in an advanced state of disrepair, so I took the plunge. I love this place to spend weekends there with my children, I also lend it to my friends. It is a drop-off point to meet again.

You recently presented your film Les Engagés in Deauville, how was it received?

Frankly wonderful. I was very happy because apart from two couples of friends, I didn’t know anyone in the room. I was delighted to see that the spectators had come out of a desire to see the film. The room was full. As I left, several people said to me: “thank you, you made us look at it”. We hear about the obligation to leave the territory, the migratory crisis… with each problem of insecurity, these subjects emerge.

The strength of fiction is to enter a subject through the lens of a short story, to identify and understand the psychology of the characters.

What is your view on engagement today? What does this word mean in our society?

I find that to be fundamental. I am blown away by people. There are twelve and a half million volunteers in France, that means as many people who give their time for free for a cause. It’s one in four French people and that’s what upset me when I was in Besançon. To see how people who did not have the same origin, nor the same social background, the same age, the same culture all of a sudden find themselves around common values ​​and a common project is striking. This is making society, this is making family and this is making politics. This policy of daily proximity, this commitment of people really upset me. With all the previews across France, I realize how strong the commitment is. We are always in denigration, we find that we do not do enough, but when I see all that people give for a cause, I am delighted and I tell myself that it is possible to do great things. .

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In your film there are two kinds of commitment, that by conviction of the volunteers in the associations but also the occasional commitment of a man.

It is above all the praise of the collective. I didn’t want to make a militant film because I wanted to involve as many people as possible and come back to an essential question: that of life or death. Question summarized by Elie Wiesel in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize: “When human lives are in danger, borders no longer have any meaning. My character’s action results from this awareness that human lives are in danger in the territory where he lives. The question is not are we right or left? Are we for or against immigration? It is rather: in Europe, in a country created to build peace in the aftermath of the genocide and the Holocaust, do we live well with the idea that people die crossing borders? In my film, a physiotherapist who is neither politicized nor militant says to himself: no, it’s not possible. These mountains where he goes to climb to draw his beautiful energy, where he recharges his batteries, he does not want them to become the cemetery of Europe after the Mediterranean. He enters into this commitment with his belly, his heart, with all the idealism of adolescence when he is already almost 40 years old. It’s people like him who make things happen.

It is also a form of disobedience

When we talk about disobedience, we have the impression of talking about anarchists, but the people who disobey in Besançon are physiotherapists, doctors, teachers, they are even cops because all of a sudden, what are asked to apply is too difficult, too iniquitous. The question of disobedience is fundamental today and interests me a lot. There are plenty of areas like ecology where you have to disobey. When Noël Mamère decided, in 2004, to marry homosexuals in his town hall, he was sanctioned, the marriage was annulled. Twenty years later it is the mayor who does not want to marry homosexuals who is sanctioned. The laws move. On the other hand, the laws of nature and of the mountains are immutable. They say one thing, the mountain is stronger than us and we must help those who are in difficulty. In Briançon, people apply this law of nature which I think we should learn from.

You started by writing books, then screenplays, it’s your first film alone, how did you progress?

I have the impression that cinema brings together a lot of my passions. I love costumes, my parents come from the fashion world where I grew up, I love work so decoration positions interest me, obviously, I love writing, I’m very sensitive to photography… I think that d n an artistic point of view, the passage between writing and the image transited by the drawing. I do a lot of comics and in comics the camera is phantom, it helped me a lot, I storyboarded my film. And then there is the experience that I was able to live on the sets and the desire. Making a film is above all about communicating this desire and getting people on board for the adventure.

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Your film has already received three audience awards, it is listed among the three films to see in November and you also want to reach schoolchildren

We have a very strong educational record. I hope that school children will come to see the film. The children don’t have a very big role in the film, but they have a crucial role for me, which is to embody the young generation. The shift also takes place through the gaze of these children. I hope that the teachers will like the film and will want to show it to their students. I already make school trips all over France. I also try to go to territories where cinema does not go, to rural areas that are deserted enough to bring culture and debate there. It is also an opportunity to meet very committed people who defend cinema, culture to open minds, to propose a debate.

Pedagogical file downloadable from les engages-lefilm.com

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On the eve of the release of her film Les Engagés, Emilie Frèche talks about her love for Deauville